National accolades for SIFE UNE

Published 09 August 2012

The achievements of the University of New England’s SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) team at the SIFE National Championships in Melbourne last month marked the UNE team’s most successful year yet.

UNE’s SIFE team was one of only four teams – out of a field of 24 from universities around Australia – to progress to the championship round of the competition, which was held at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel from the 11th to the 13th of July.

SIFE is a global organisation that challenges university students to make a difference in their communities and to develop their leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practising and teaching the principles of free enterprise.

SIFE UNE won three of the five awards for the team whose projects met the SIFE criteria most effectively. It was named the team that “most effectively targeted people in need”, that “best considered the relevant economic, social and environmental factors in their projects”, and that “most improved the quality of life and standard of living for its project beneficiaries”.

The UNE team’s projects over the past year have included the organisation (in conjunction with New England Mutual) of birth certificate and birth registration forms for 97 Indigenous children at Minimbah Pre-school and Primary School in Armidale; the development (once again in conjunction with New England Mutual) of a financial literacy program for UNE students; a “Sustainable Campus Project” aimed at reducing the use of plastic water bottles and take-away coffee cups at UNE; a “Farming Futures Project” that is – with great success – providing opportunities for UNE’s agribusiness and rural science students to meet representatives of rural industries to discuss career options.

SIFE UNE also won two of the three individual awards for people who supported the team. The UNE team’s Faculty Adviser, Jo Watson, received the award of “most outstanding Faculty Adviser” for 2012 – an award that includes a ticket to the SIFE World Cup in Washington DC in September. And Frank Leayr, from UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Science, was recognised as the “most supportive Business Advisory Board member” for 2012.

The four teams in the championship round – the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Melbourne University, and UNE – presented their projects in front of 42 judges comprising industry leaders and representatives of universities. UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Annabelle Duncan, was one of the judges. The team from the University of Western Australia was the ultimate winner of the competition.

Nicole Fogarty, the President of SIFE UNE, said she was proud of the UNE team’s achievements in “making an impression on the other teams and giving our projects a voice on a national stage”.

Students interested in joining SIFE UNE can e-mail: